The Pancyprian federation of labour (Peo) on Tuesday said the instructions for employers to forbid people from working unless they have a SafePass creates a climate of tension and instead urged more discussion to reach agreement.

The federation said: “We hope that the employers will not show too much zeal and will not take punitive and destructive measures against the employees.”

It added that they expect employers to discuss with their workers in a spirit of consensus and through negotiation, with the aim of reaching “commonly accepted arrangements”.

Their announcement was in response to the circular issued by the employers and industrialists federation (Oev) to businesses earlier in the day, on how to handle staff who refuses to abide by the health ministry’s decrees.

In accordance with the recent decrees, all workers, including the self-employed, must present a proof of SafePass to go to work. This entails either a negative PCR or a rapid antigen detection test for Covid-19 carried out within the last 72 hours, or a vaccination certificate of at least one dose three weeks prior, or evidence that person had contracted and recovered from the virus within the last six months.

“Employers must ensure that their employees comply with the provisions of this Regulation,” the decree adds.

Citing the decree, Oev warned employers that it was their responsibility if a member of their staff is found at work without a SafePass.

It instructed employers to “prohibit entry, the assignment of duties or carrying out works” unless employees can provide proof of the above documents.

The labour federation said Oev’s “hasty” announcement “does not help, but creates conditions of tension” in workplaces.

According to Oev, if workers refuse to present a SafePass, then, when possible, staff may work from home, or receive paid leave, or use their annual leave, or be on unpaid leave. Other arrangements within the legal framework will also be accepted, Oev said.

However, in the case an agreement cannot be achieved, then “the employee’s absence from work will be deemed to be an unjustified unpaid absence, as this is the employee’s fault if he/she conscientiously refuses to apply his/her legal obligations.”

If employees’ refusal to comply with the regulations is persistent, then the unjustified absence will be a “disciplinary misconduct and the employer will be able to take disciplinary measures and impose disciplinary sanctions” following a written warning.

The announcement also recommended a communication with the various trade unions “to seek commonly accepted solutions”.

In a call on companies and employees to fully comply with the provisions of the decree, Oev said the primary aim “is to safeguard public health as well as to ensure the viability of companies called upon to operate under extremely adverse conditions”.